Plato once said that ‘the beginning was the most important part of the work’. Undoubtedly, it is also the hardest and scariest part. The following ten tips for aspiring TEFL teachers will help you to begin your teaching career successfully, without falling into the most obvious teaching traps. Treat this guide as your compass that will never let you get lost in the world of language education.
11 Tips for New TEFL Teachers:
1. Always be prepared
Remember that an English lesson is not a lengthy small talk session. A language lesson without a clear aim, with no professional teaching materials and no shred of action plan will in most cases be a huge waste of your students’ time and learning potential.
2. Remember that words are silver, but silence is golden
Don’t talk over your students. It’s your students who need to practise speaking the English language, not you. Instead of wisecracking, equip learners with challenging and diverse speaking activities and improve their vocabulary with essential words and phrases.
3. Teach four main skills
Every TEFL teacher should know that listening, reading, writing and speaking are the four fundamental language skills. As a TEFL teacher, avoid focusing on one skill only during your English lesson. Remember variety is the spice of life, so make your English lessons exciting by mixing the four various skills during the same lesson.
4. Manage time effectively
A wise TEFL teacher will manage their time carefully. Whilst planning your English lesson, try to evaluate how much time will be devoted to each activity. It will make planning your lessons much easier.
Sometimes less really does mean more. It is better to devote some time to revising the previously taught material instead of rushing to introduce a new topic and new vocabulary and grammar. Revision is a very important stage of an English lesson. Usually, it takes place at the beginning of the lesson and may take up to 5 to 10 minutes.
6. Profit from other teachers’ experience
If you are at the beginning of your TEFL teacher career, it is good to ask more experienced colleagues for help. Observing lessons conducted by professionals is a real fountain of practical knowledge.
7. Plan coherent lessons
The structure of your English lesson should be coherent. It should be planned, for example, around one topic or one grammar structure. Avoid jumping from one topic to another during the same lesson, refrain from addressing too many different issues at one time, otherwise your English lesson will seem chaotic.
8. Analyse the language needs of your students
If, after taking the TEFL course, you make a decision to teach adults, remember to analyse their language needs. This is normally conducted at the beginning of the language course. In order for adult learners to be satisfied with their English lessons and be engaged in them, your students’ language needs should be catered for. Enquire whether your course participants are attending the language course because they need to use the foreign language at work, or in order to be able to communicate fluently whilst travelling, or maybe they are in a relationship with someone who speaks a different language.
9. Be optimistic
Students will enjoy your lessons on condition that you enjoy them too. Make optimism, passion, and engagement contagious during the classes you conduct. Build positive rapport with the course participants, give positive feedback, be energetic. Become your students’ role model in the world of learning languages.
10. Befriend with technology
The world moves forward, so you should keep up with the pace. Videos, podcasts, video conferencing platforms, online teaching tools, virtual quizzes, live worksheets, language applications – all these amazing resources and tools are at your immediate disposal – the majority of them are for free. Surprise your students with new online solutions, as it will undoubtedly pay off. Be a 21st Century TEFL teacher!
11. Use coursebooks wisely
The lower the language level of your students, the more important a coursebook will be. Learners at elementary or pre-intermediate levels will definitely appreciate having a coursebook as a reference material. However, each and every coursebook should be supplemented with additional materials. As a qualified TEFL teacher, you must also remember that you don’t have to follow the coursebook material page by page. The best course of action will be using your coursebook wisely and selectively.
Now you are definitely ready to take the first step as a TEFL teacher, plan your first lessons and begin your teaching adventure in any part of the world.